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This Week in PLOS: Jan 5, 2015

In PLOS One, researchers from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez and the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service describe the genetic diversity detected in Puerto Rican sweet potato plants. The team profiled nearly two dozen simple sequence repeat markers in DNA from the leaves of plants in 137 sweet potato landraces grown around Puerto Rico, along with plants from another 10 US cultivars and 20 Puerto Rican accessions. The results highlight the extensive genetic diversity present in the plants, while providing a look at relationships between sweet potato accessions, the plant's domestication history, and its distribution across Puerto Rico, the researchers say.

Swedish and Japanese researchers performed an integrated transcriptomic and proteomic analysis of kidney tissue for another PLOS One study. By sequencing and comparing RNA sequence patterns in kidney tissue and 26 other human tissue types, the team uncovered almost 400 genes with higher-than-usual expression in the kidney compared to the complete tissue collection. Meanwhile, the investigators' immunohistochemistry-based kidney protein analyses made it possible to categorize proteins depending on their location within different parts of the kidney structure.

A team from the US, France, and elsewhere searched for genetic contributors to placental abruption, a pregnancy complication that involves premature placental detachment from the uterine wall. Using array-based genotyping on maternal blood and placental samples collected from 280 women with placental abruption and 244 without, the researchers searched for variants contributing to interactions between maternal and placental tissues that contribute to the condition. Their genome-wide association search and targeted gene analyses turned up candidate SNPs in genes involved in everything from cell cycle regulation and energy metabolism to imprinting, and placental development.